The last three months have been a truly remarkable period in our history. I have watched in awe as the brightest and most committed minds in medicine around the world race the clock to treat and ultimately find a vaccine for COVID-19. For the first time in a long while, I have found myself hopeful that we will begin to make meaningful progress in eliminating the scourge of racism that continues to plague our country. And in the midst of these 100+ days, with personal and professional life pivoting to the home and community, attitudes about the perfect place to live have literally changed overnight.
A walk around any residential neighborhood in our local market today tells the story. Streets that once seemed unoccupied are now bustling with life as residents, sheltered in place, take to the streets for exercise, protest and daily living. I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve met more people in my neighborhood in the last few months than I have in all the time I have lived here. With most of us now working and vacationing from home, housing amenities such as home offices, extra space and large yards, previously undervalued by homebuyers, are at a premium. Properties located in car dependent locations are seeing stronger demand as urbanites seek to escape the confines of city living.
The challenge in today’s market is that we are in the midst of an inventory crisis. As new buyers flood in hoping to purchase a home, they are finding nothing to buy. To give you some perspective, there were only 539 units sold in our local market* this quarter, 34% lower than the 827 in the same quarter last year and on par with levels not seen since the housing crisis over 10 years ago (although prices continue to reach all time highs). Faced with few options to upsize/downsize and uncertainty about the global health crisis and sputtering economy, many property owners are in a deep freeze. The result is the return of bidding wars for the few available properties. With daily life currently confined to our own communities, the importance placed on homeownership has never been greater.
How our housing market performs for the remainder of this year is almost impossible to predict with the pandemic and the upcoming November election. What I do know is that there has been a fundamental shift in buyers’ needs as companies offer workers the long term option to work from home. With no relief to our inventory issue in sight, I suspect that we will continue to see a seller’s market for the rest of this year as buyers quickly absorb any inventory. As we move into next year and begin to get resolution on the political, economic and medical uncertainties of the day, I continue to see no better investment for the long term than owning a home in the East Bay.
As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me if I can be of assistance or a sounding board during these highly unusual times.
*detached homes over $450,000 in Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, Kensington, Piedmont and Oakland zip codes 94602, 94605, 94608, 94609, 94610, 94611, 94612, 94618, 94619. Based on information from the MLS as of July 1, 2020. All data, including all measurements and calculations of area, is obtained from various sources and has not been, and will not be, verified by broker or MLS. All information should be independently reviewed and verified for accuracy. Properties may or may not be listed by the office/agent presenting the information